I realise I’m pretty late posting this! Notes on days six to 10 of my 10-days to a more mindful me journey have been sitting in draft on my laptop for about a week, but rest assured I did finish them – I feel better for it too!
Having completed 10 days of mindfulness practice, I can see how it would be helpful to keep going with so I can use it as a tool in more anxious moments. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t sure about the effectiveness of mindfulness at first. But the last half of my journey brought with it a much greater sense of rest and clarity – both of which are rare for someone who’s notoriously restless and indecisive!
Here’s an update on my mindfulness journey days six to 10.
Day 6: Day six of my Headspace mindfulness app talks about allowing the body and mind to unwind, and how this may surface tension in the body in order for it to be released. I’m reminded not to think too much about breathing as “the body knows how to breathe”. So I stop forcing deep breathing and notice that my natural breath rhythm is actually much faster and shallower, emerging from my chest rather than my diaphragm – no wonder I always feel so restless and anxious! I don’t notice any tension as such today, but I do notice I feel a little bit more focused with each session I complete.
Day 7: For the first six days of my journey I’ve been trying to stick to a first-thing-in-the morning practice. But since I haven’t been sleeping well, I decide to try taking a mindful moment before bed. Ironically, my thoughts dart distractingly around my head until the part in the practice where they’re ‘allowed’ to wander freely – then I can’t seem to think of anything! While practising mindfulness before bed doesn’t necessarily help me to sleep calmly through the night, it definitely helps me to clear my head before I drift off into the land of nod – something which hasn’t happened for a long time!
Day 8: My anxiety has been building all morning and when I decide to take a mindful moment, I realise I’m at the beginnings of a minor panic attack. I immediately notice how shallow my breathing is compared to usual, but focusing on my breath really helps to calm me down and I actually find it a little easier to relax into the practice than usual. At the stage in the session where my mind is ‘allowed’ to wander freely, I find my thoughts are running around my head so quickly I can’t even focus on what each one is about! By the end of the practice, I don’t necessarily feel perfectly calm, but I do feel a sense of clarity about the main thing that’s been worrying me all day, and a heightened awareness of the way in which my emotions can affect my physical state.
Day 9: Switching it up again, I try a post-exercise practice. Turns out to be a great way to wind down after a tough fitness session! I definitely feel more focused and relaxed – and like I finally know what I’m doing! I’m also finding it slightly easier to step back and observe my thoughts from the sidelines, rather than getting involved and ‘running with them’. All in all, a pretty good practice!
Day 10: Back to a spot of mindfulness before bed. Today I’m able to easily identify my underlying mood – and it transforms quickly as the practice goes on! When I start I’m a little restless and excited, having just logged offline from writing blog updates and interacting on social media. As my thoughts begin to creep in, I remember something frustrating from during the day and my excitement quickly turns into agitation. I remember to pull my attention back to the practice though, and soon feel a sense of sleepiness as I start to really relax. Afterwards, I’m surprised at how quickly my ability to focus (or at least re-connect with a sense of focus!) has improved. I’m keen to learn more about how I can apply these skills to my mentality in day to day life.
Want to find out about days one to five of my 10-days to a more mindful me journey? Read My mindfulness journey day 1: losing my train of thought and My mindfulness journey days 2-5: progressing in small steps.